After their discovery by the Inquisition, the Steel Confessors were forced to become an independent Chapter of the Adeptus Mechanicus, but they still maintain unusually close ties with the Mechanicus of Mars.
It should be noted that much of the information on this page is considered unverifiable as canon due to unusual circumstances given below.
The Steel Confessors Space Marine Chapter had very inauspicious beginnings when it was first created. In an effort to better protect their Forge Worlds and private interests, the Adeptus Mechanicus took it upon themselves to create a secret Chapter of Space Marines that only bore loyalty to Mars and the Cult Mechanicus. Using Iron Hands' gene-seed collected from that Chapter's tithes to Mars, the Mechanicus began work on a Chapter that was intended to rival the strength and power of any other Imperial force in the galaxy. The Chapter is an unintended Successor Chapter of the Iron Hands since the Steel Confessors were created from their gene-seed because the Iron Hands were the First Founding Space Marine Legion that had the closest ties and beliefs to those of the Adeptus Mechanicus and so were considered to be a good source material for the creation of the Mechanicus' own private army of Astartes. Feeling that they were often forced to follow unfair rules and regulations as laid down by the High Lords of Terra, the Adeptus Mechanicus named their newly created Chapter the Steel Confessors. One of the most promising of the newly created Mechanicus Astartes, a warrior named Avonis, was appointed as the Steel Confessors' first Chapter Master.
Unfortunately for the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Inquisition discovered their secret machinations to create a private Space Marine Chapter and reported the act to the High Lords of Terra. After much deliberation, the High Lords decreed that despite the Adeptus Mechanicus having greatly over-stepped their mandate, they would be allowed to keep their newly-created Chapter, with certain limitations. The Steel Confessors were first required to take the same vows of fealty and loyalty to the Imperium of Man that bound all other Space Marine Chapters and to separate itself organisationally from the Adeptus Mechanicus so that it operated as a truly independent Chapter, just like all the others. Though the Mechanicus was not well-pleased by these edicts of the High Lords, they begrudgingly agreed to Terra's terms so as to avoid a potential conflict which both Mars and Terra could ill afford in the tumultuous days of the 36th Millennium and the Age of Apostasy.
- Battle of Kracsis IV (745.M41) - The Steel Confessors valiantly defended their original Chapter homeworld, the Forge World of Kracsis IV, from the attack of the first Tyranid assault upon the Imperium, Hive Fleet Behemoth. Unfortunately, the Tyranids proved to be too much for the Steel Confessors and despite the valiant defence put up against these xenos horrors by the Confessors, they were forced to retreat from Kracsis IV and watch as all of its biomass was absorbed by the Hive Fleet before moving on. The battle was costly for the Chapter and cost the life of its Chapter Master at that time, Protonus. Yet the Chapter survived and built a new home upon the Forge World of Kalevala.
- Battle for Kalevala (997.M41) - In 997.M41, the Steel Confessors faced a new Tyranid menace, this time in the form of Hive Fleet Leviathan. The Battle for Kalevala was once again fought on the Steel Confessors' own homeworld against the invading Tyranids, though this time the Chapter determined that there would be a very different outcome when they faced off against the Great Devourer. The entire Chapter of the Steel Confessors successfully engaged in battle against the Tyranids of the Leviathan. The world of Kalevala was home to the Steel Confessors' Fortress-Monastery, their Chapter's gene-seed stores, a major Adeptus Mechanicus manufactorum complex as well as a full Psychic Choir of Astropaths that boosted the Astronomican to allow navigation through the difficult currents in the Immaterium created by the Tyranid Hive Mind's psychic shadow in the Warp. This being the Chapter's homeworld, there was no other choice, other than to defend it in open battle from the forces of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Leviathan. The battle was colossal and brutally straightforward, with each of the ten companies of the Steel Confessors taking up defensive positions around the Mechanicus manufactorums and their fortress-monastery while the Tyranid horde attacked unrelentingly in an attempt to overwhelm the Astartes' firing lines. Despite the incalculable number of Tyranids present on Kalevala, the disciplined regimen of volley fire from the Steel Confessors Tactical Marines and Devastator Squads, combined with surgical counterattacks by the Assault Squads, Veteran Squads of the 1st Company, and Land Speeder Squadrons flying between battlefield locations to lend their firepower to those companies that were struggling, eventually thinned the Tyranid horde while minimising Space Marine casualties. The Tyranids finally depleted their own numbers after consistently throwing themselves without regard into the sustained fire of the Astartes' guns. At the end of the battle, the 8th and 10th Companies of the Steel Confessors had been utterly wiped out, the 1st Company was at 40% operational strength, the 3rd and 6th Companies were at 60%, while the rest of the Chapter's companies still possessed between 20-40% of their standard operational strength. Yet Kalevala had held against the swarm and the Leviathan soon moved on to seek easier prey. The Steel Confessors still had possession of their homeworld and there would be no repeat of the humiliation that had been suffered on Kracsis IV.
In 745.M41, the Imperium encountered the first Tyranid Hive Fleet, which was designated Hive Fleet Behemoth. This encounter was also the first contact the Imperium had with the Tyranids as a race. Hive Fleet Behemoth emerged from the galactic south-east of the Eastern Fringe in the Ultima Segmentum without warning and ploughed like an unstoppable juggernaut into the realms of the Imperium, devastating hundreds of star systems and devouring everything in its path. Compared to later Hive Fleets that adopted variable strategies as they faced Imperial resistance, Behemoth showed no subtlety in its nearly berserk initial advance.
Unfortunately for the Steel Confessors, their original Chapter homeworld, the Forge World of Kracsis IV, stood in the path of the Great Devourer and was soon attacked by the ravenous swarms of these foul xenos. Though they fought valiantly, Kracsis IV soon fell to the Behemoth, forcing the Confessors to make a hasty withdrawal, lest they suffer the complete annihilation of their Chapter. Chapter Master Protonus was killed during the defence of Kracsis IV, valiantly holding the line so the last of his Battle-Brothers could escape the doomed world. His body was recovered and would later be buried on Kalevala alongside the remains of the Steel Confessors' first Chapter Master, Avonis. When the Tyranid menace was finally stopped and defeated at the Battle of Macragge in 745.M41 by the Ultramarines and the Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Ultima, the Steel Confessors were granted a new homeworld by the Imperium (through the intervention of the Adeptus Mechanicus) upon the Forge World of Kalevala.
Unlike their genetic forebears, the Steel Confessors are organised predominantly according to the tenets of the Codex Astartes, though they do incorporate some of the atypical organisational elements used by the Iron Hands. The Steel Confessors divide the Chapter up into 10 standard Astartes companies, rather than into Clan Companies as the Iron Hands do. The Steel Confessors do not incorporate the specialist rank of the Iron Hands known as the Iron Fathers within their Chapter, preferring to keep the two traditional Astartes specialties of Chaplains and Techmarines separate as in most other Chapters. However all of the Steel Confessors' company Captains are also trained to serve as both Artificers and Techmarines. The Chapter Master of the Steel Confessors is traditionally chosen by a council composed of all of the Chapter's company Captains, Chaplains, Librarians and Dreadnoughts. In the event of a tie vote between two candidates, the five most senior sergeants within the Chapter then cast their vote.
The Steel Confessors' relationship with the Adeptus Mechanicus, due to the nature of their illicit Founding, is rumoured to be even closer than that enjoyed by the Iron Hands. Because of this close relationship, the Steel Confessors are provided with an excellent supply of the finest heavy arms, armour, war machines and equipment that the manufactorums of Mars can currently produce.
Like all true scions of Ferrus Manus, the Steel Confessors are notoriously harsh on their Neophytes, brooking no sign of weakness or failure within them. Those Neophytes who do not live up to the harsh training regimen of the Chapter or those that falter or fail in their superiors' judgment will either die in the process of being trained or will later be lobotomised and transformed into a cybernetic Servitor to continue to serve the Chapter in some fashion.
Chapter Combat Doctrine
The Steel Confessors enter battle with a renowned intensity and a cold, calculating determination. The Chapter's cold fury in combat is fearful to witness, and deadly in its effectiveness. The disciplined regimen of volley fire from the Steel Confessors' Tactical Marines and Devastator Marines, combined with surgical counterattacks from Assault Squads, Veteran Squads of their 1st Company, and Land Speeder Squadrons are brutally effective against Mankind's foes. The Confessors are also known to make use of large amounts of heavy armour in their assaults, due to their close connection with the Mechanicus, which supplies the most advanced patterns of vehicles to the Chapter.
Like their forebears among the Iron Hands, the Steel Confessors are utterly intolerant of physical or mental weaknesses in others and least of all in themselves. One notable incident occurred when the Chapter actually destroyed the Tallarn 54th Regiment of the Imperial Guard, for "failure to achieve objectives". For taking up arms against the Emperor's servants, the Steel Confessors have once again found themselves under investigation by the Inquisition. This intolerance for weakness manifests most notably in a distinct preference for the high levels of cybernetic replacement of the healthy portions of their bodies with augmetic bionics, which is quite a common place practice within the Chapter as it is in other Iron Hands Successors as well. Spiritually, the Chapter believes in a divine trinity that is a modified version of the faith held by the Adeptus Mechanicus. This trinity is composed of the Machine God, the universal spirit of knowledge that provides succor and strength to all, the Emperor of Mankind, who stands as the physical embodiment of knowledge incarnate and the Machine God in the universe as the Omnissiah, and their Primarch Ferrus Manus, the greatest prophet of the Machine God. The Steel Confessors still maintain extremely close ties with the Adeptus Mechanicus embracing all the primary beliefs of the Cult Mechanicus wholeheartedly. The majority of other Space Marine Chapters frown upon the Steel Confessors' obscene reverence for the mechanical and the physical embodiment of knowledge, just as they frown upon those Chapters who adopt the Imperial Creed and revere the Emperor as a God rather than as a father, an inspiration and humanity's greatest guide.
Notable Steel Confessors
- Chapter Master Avonis - Avonis was the first Chapter Master of the Steel Confessors, chosen by the magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus to lead the new Space Marines when they covertly created the Chapter in the 36th Millennium. Avonis was buried on the Chapter's now devastated original homeworld of Kracsis IV, though his remains were later returned by the Chapter to its new homeworld of Kalevala where Avonis was laid to rest beside Chapter Master Protonus who was slain defending Kracsis IV from the assault by Hive Fleet Behemoth that ultimately drove the Steel Confessors from that world. Chapter legends maintain that Avonis never died but is only in stasis until such time as his Chapter needs him once more.
- Chapter Master Protonus - Chapter Master Protonus was killed during the valiant defence of Kracsis IV from the Tyranid Hive Fleet Behemoth in 745.M41. He would later be buried on Kalevala alongside the Steel Confessors' first Chapter Master, Avonis.
The Steel Confessors primarily wear metallic silver power armour. The shoulder plate trim is dark green. The inset of the shoulder plates as well as the knee guards are bone white.
The Aquila or Imperialis on the chest guard is metallic silver. The black squad specialty symbol -- battleline, close support, fire support, Veteran or command -- is located on the right shoulder plate.
A black High Gothic numeral is stenciled on the inside of the shoulder plate, next to the squad specialty symbol, indicating squad number.
The Steel Confessors' Chapter badge consists of a black cross crosslet. A white lightning bolt surmounts it in the middle of a red oval. The cross crosslet is centred on a field of bone white.
The Chapter gained notoriety at the Games Day & Golden Demon event at the NEC in Birmingham, England, in 2005, when they were featured in the Warhammer 40,000 mega-battle, the "Battle for Kalevala"; also displayed was a life-sized statue of a Steel Confessor Tactical Marine, a Steel Confessors' Terminator's helmet and a bolter.
You will find most of the information here reproduced here from the complete Index Astartes: Steel Confessors handout on the Chapter which was distributed that day. The source for this information was Index Astartes: Steel Confessors which claimed to reproduce the text of that handout in its entirety.
- Index Astartes: Steel Confessors, A Games Day 2005 hand-out
- Warhammer 40,000 – The Battle for Kalevala (This website claims to be a faithful recreation of the text of the original 2005 hand-out; this could not be verified as no original copy of the hand-out could be found.)
- Games Day & Golden Demon 2005 (Archived Site)
- Soul Hunter (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden, Ch. IX